For those of you that write...

How did you came to writing?

I was planning on asking what your writing process was or something like that, before quickly realizing how boring and repetitive that question was, and how there's no good explanation to an artist's creative process (except maybe Bukowski's beer shit metaphor). But I'm still wondering (even though the question is still kinda dumb) when (and for god's sake, why?) did you all writers of prose/poetry/journalism out there began writing?

Was it a "it was always in my blood" kind of thing? Have you been getting rejection letters since your teens? Did you start old like Selby? Did you just wake up one morning in your 60's and said "hey, maybe my life would make a good book" and started typing away? Was it a particular book or event that inspired you to write? Etc.
 
I started with stories and several aborted novels, then moved on to poetry from about age 25 to 45. Reams of rubbish with a few gems. I started a novel to deal with my divorce, sparked by reading Schismatrix, in early 2017. I had no intention to publish it, but I showed it to a novelist friend who showed it to his editor and she published it in 2019. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't totally stoked, but I used to write more out of compulsion than anything else. I made my first attempts at 17 but it wasn't til 21 or so that I really got into it. I occasionally sent stuff out, and of course would love to publish again, but I do it because I kind of have to. Fame or money, I wouldn't turn it away, but it's really not why I do it. I think to become a writer one must read constantly and write every day. Innate talent ain't anything without practice. Thing for me is since being published, I've slacked off on both reading and writing. It's easy to lose the habit. It's kind of a snowball effect, when I write I write and write and write. For about 9 months I haven't written jack. But I'm not gonna force it. When it comes, I must write it out. At the moment, I just don't feel the compulsion. It just seems fake. I was a machine for over 20 years, so I think I need to just absorb and reflect. Not sure if that's helpful. My advice: read incessantly, write daily, don't try to say what you don't know or be who you aren't. And don't be afraid to experiment: I've used cut-up, found text, automatic writing, just for me, not for public consumption. The book I published is "poetic" and maybe even "lyrical" but it's relatively straight. Buk's "Don't Try" is a good bit of advice. Or as Yoda said: "There is no try. Only doing". Also, sometimes people will write a certain way because a literary hero, say Bukowski, approve or disapprove of a certain way of writing. This can really cripple a writer. I learned a lot from Bukowski and wrote quite a few poems with his voice in mind, but ultimately you can't stay locked into that. It's not wrong to imitate another writer but eventually that's just got to be a phase on the way to discovering your own voice, which will reveal itself after many years of work. You'll look back and see where your influences fell away and "you" began. I hope that helps an doesn't sound pretentious.


As an afterthought, I have to work a job, but not having a lot of time is actually beneficial to me. I tend to do less when I have a lot of time. "I'd only write if I only had time" is rubbish. Whether it's five minutes a day or five hours, you take that time and do it. Precious few make a living by writing, so you just have to make that time you have count. I compose lines in my head while driving, or jot stuff down between classes or whenever. No excuses, basically. All you need is pen and paper and minutes wherever you can find them. I hesitated to post this link, but it does speak a bit about how I write, it's an interview I did for my publisher, it goes into some details about what I've said above: https://www.whiskeytit.com/im-not-a-fighter-im-an-ostrich-steven-adkins-on-the-ice-mine/

I hope that's useful.
 
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It's easy to lose the habit. It's kind of a snowball effect, when I write I write and write and write. For about 9 months I haven't written jack. But I'm not gonna force it.
This is so true. Right now I'm going through one of those periods where I neither read nor write. Mostly because I've been having to deal with some changes in my life, but the little free time I have I spend watching movies, TV shows and listening to music (all of which sometimes inspire my writing, too, so I'm not complaining). However, I do go through phases where the only things I do are reading and writing, albeit shitty poems or unfinished short stories, mostly when I find a book I really like.

don't try to say what you don't know or be who you aren't.
Sometimes that's the hardest part. Finding your own voice. Right now I have a story in mind that really resonates with me, but I don't know how to put it into paper. Before wanting to write I wanted to be a movie director (something I still ponder about sometimes), so the idea in my head seems too cinematic to be a book, but I hope I figure it out.

And don't be afraid to experiment: I've used cut-up, found text, automatic writing, just for me, not for public consumption.
I've definitely trying to experiment lately. It does help the ideas flow. I have also found that changing methods (pen and paper, laptop, etc.) and schedules also help. I feel it at least makes the act more interesting, even if what you're writing sucks.

I compose lines in my head while driving, or jot stuff down between classes or whenever.
I compose a lot in my head at all times, but writing it all is the "hard" part. It's like when you're in bed at night, thinking about everything you're gonna accomplish the next day, only to abandon all of those ideas next morning. It can take me a few days to write an idea for a poem I already have in mind. Inspiration to do it is most definitely unpredictible. I've had the urge to write in the strangest places, and I do it, but sometimes I'm sitting five hours at home and nothing comes out. This is why "So you want enter the arena?", one of the first Bukowski poems I read, still stands among my favorites. A great poem on the subject of inspiration and writing.

hesitated to post this link, but it does speak a bit about how I write, it's an interview I did for my publisher, it goes into some details about what I've said above
I'll check it out later. Thanks for all the advice.
 
I realize my answer was not exactly what you asked, but glad you appreciated it. As far as finding one's voice, I felt like I had it once I'd stopped looking for it. Bukowski's epitaph, once again. "Don't Try." So you write poetry and prose?
 

esart

esart.com
Founding member
I wrote my first short story when I was 14 and was it ever dumb, about a kid at school who was able to shift the lunch trays around all the tables with his mind whenever he got stressed out. The next one was about a teenager in a psych hospital that escaped through once of his paintings, and the next was about a dream--where a select few people on Earth had to save a planet that looked an awful lot like Fiji. I wrote them all before I was 16 and I don't know why. By then I'd read all of Salinger's books, a couple of Bukowski's novels and a few Tom Robbins novels. I wrote a lot of bad poetry and even tried to send them to rags and got a ton of rejections and finally stopped trying around age 22 or so. I never tried to send any stories. I never tried to write a novel until my mid-twenties, but I wrote a screenplay when I was 17/18 that was also shit. I didn't try to do anything with it. It was about a girl drummer that wore a mask. See? I was still too young with my ideas.

I started three novels in my twenties. One was like Animal Farm-meets-Interview with a Vampire humor-type thing, another was a murder-mystery with a rock band told by the victim, and the last was a fictionalized version of what turned into my memoir, Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley. I got more rejections from that than anything else added together. It was published under my own indy and now I am a hundredaire.

Now I am working on a book of short stories. I was working on it as a novel, but I decided to change it to a short story and shuffle it in with some other stories I had. I haven't decided how I will be publishing it yet, but it will probably be a hybrid of an indy-meets-Artist's book.

To answer your original question, I don't know why I started writing. I just felt like it. I didn't feel compelled though. Not like art and music. I wanted to, but I didn't think I could get good at it. I just like doing it. I guess I feel compelled to do it when I am writing out my thoughts and feelings as a means to get through my shit. I suppose I would feel more compelled to write a poem over writing a story. It's different.
 
So you write poetry and prose?
Poetry at least once a week. Prose... once every blue moon, yeah.

I got more rejections from that than anything else added together.
Wow. I'm glad you could get it published. As I said in my new blood post, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I just felt like it. I didn't feel compelled though. Not like art and music.
Now that you mention it, I'm curious: as a person who paints, makes music and writes, is the impulse to create and the subsequent creative process in each particular medium different? I suppose that while it seems harder, getting an idea for a song and making it is relatively quick, whereas for a painting you have to keep the idea going for some time while you finish the painting--same thing for a novel. I really don't know. I've never made a song in my life and my drawings are horrible, that's why I'm interested.

Now I am working on a book of short stories. I was working on it as a novel, but I decided to change it to a short story and shuffle it in with some other stories I had. I haven't decided how I will be publishing it yet, but it will probably be a hybrid of an indy-meets-Artist's book.
Looking forward to it. Hope you can get it published.
 

esart

esart.com
Founding member
[re: memoir:] I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Thank you. I really appreciate that. :)

Now that you mention it, I'm curious: as a person who paints, makes music and writes, is the impulse to create and the subsequent creative process in each particular medium different? I suppose that while it seems harder, getting an idea for a song and making it is relatively quick, whereas for a painting you have to keep the idea going for some time while you finish the painting--same thing for a novel. I really don't know. I've never made a song in my life and my drawings are horrible, that's why I'm interested.
For me, all avenues and media are different, even in art: oil painting, watercolor, drawing, etc.--those are all different impulses, as you put them, or creative urges. For me anyway. But I don't see any of these things faster or quicker than the other. If you think that writing a song is quick, that's not true in my mind. I mean, sometimes it can come fast, like a poem, but sometimes (usually) it needs work. It depends on the song! It depends on a lot of things. Is it just a chord progression and a melody? What about the words, the harmonies, the other instrumentation? Do you know how many times you have to run through that damn thing before you get it right? Recording a song can take forever, especially with a lot of crew (other musicians and an engineer). A whole album could be compared to an epic novel. A body of work (paintings) to an album. These are all different things that can't really be compared to in time limits, but in terms of soul-crushing investments, I guess you can compare these things like this? I don't know. It's different for everyone. MJP can throw poems out effortlessly, while it takes me about 30x longer (not that it makes me want to strangle him). We all have a different capacity and talent for what we do.
 
If you think that writing a song is quick, that's not true in my mind. I mean, sometimes it can come fast, like a poem, but sometimes (usually) it needs work. It depends on the song! It depends on a lot of things. Is it just a chord progression and a melody? What about the words, the harmonies, the other instrumentation? Do you know how many times you have to run through that damn thing before you get it right? Recording a song can take forever, especially with a lot of crew (other musicians and an engineer). A whole album could be compared to an epic novel.
I've thought about all of this, and I guess I really won't know until I decide to write and record a song for myself, which I plan on doing at some point. I really thought writing couldn't be that difficult until I sat my ass down on an uncomfortable chair and stared at a blank page. Suddenly all of you ideas and ego go away, and you're left as blank as the page in front of you. It's easy to talk and rip apart, but creating is the real deal, and in the end leaves you with a better feeling than anything else.

We all have a different capacity and talent for what we do.
Amen to that. The important thing is to keep trying until you find your pace.
 
How have the writers here been doing throughout the lockdown? Is there an ongoing project you have in stores? Has your writing stagnated? Has it improved?

I have personally managed to pump out the usual poem, and a few really short stories. I've had an idea for a novel for a while and I feel it's finally coming together in my head but every time I put the pen on the paper POOF! It's as gone as the virus isn’t.

The more I write the more "Don’t try" pops up into my head, because I have truly done my best writings when it comes out, like Bukowski would put it, like a beer shit. But on the other side you have a lot of people saying it's not about inspiration, it’s hard work that makes a good writer. I have specially tried this during lockdown but, as I’ve said, when I do this I end up staring at the piece of paper like an idiot. Some say it’s a combination of both, but when inspired the hard work comes easy to me. I dunno what you guys think.
 
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I was always a shy kid and I used to start shivering when people had their eyes on me. I never had guts to talk to anyone about anything and that's when books protected me.
I started writing my feeling down in forms of poems or just sentences. And that's where it began.
The first book that I read was famous five and my favourite author used to be Ruskin bond. But the first author who made me realise what a good story really is was Jeffery archer. Then I was introduced to poems by Sylvia Plath and Mary oliver.
I'm about to be 20 and I feel that I already know so much about this world. So much more than people my age. And that's what books gave me.
I am still discovering amazing works and that's how I came here. Still my journey is going on.
Didn't realise that I wrote so much already. Haha.
What about you? How did you begin your journey?
 
I was always a shy kid and I used to start shivering when people had their eyes on me. I never had guts to talk to anyone about anything and that's when books protected me.
Hey man, I was like that, too. My parents always thought I was lying because I couldn’t keep my eyes fixed on anyone else's. It wasn’t until recent years that I've become more outgoing and a better talker, but the nerves you get from people are always there in some form or another.


I'm about to be 20 and I feel that I already know so much about this world. So much more than people my age. And that's what books gave me.
I am still discovering amazing works and that's how I came here. Still my journey is going on.
Didn't realise that I wrote so much already. Haha.
What about you? How did you begin your journey?
I wrote about this in another thread. I really didn’t read books when I was little. Mostly because everything I read was either what they made you read in school or best sellers, and I just didn’t find any of it interesting. My escape was videogames, movies and comic books.

It wasn't until 15 or 16 that I discovered Thomas Pynchon. At that time I wanted to be a filmmaker, so I watched all of Paul Thomas Anderson's films, which led me to Inherent Vice. I read the novel because the film was interesting, and then tried reading Gravity’s Rainbow twice before succeding the third time. From there I discovered Kerouac, who Pynchon was a fan of. Then the Beats. Then some other authors like David Foster Wallace and Kurt Vonnegut before eventually arriving on Bukowski. That’s when I really realized how powerful writing could be, and I wanted a part of it. I had already been trying to write and shoot some films, but I slowly realized that the writing part was the most interesting one.

Now I have a drawer full of papers with poems and stories in it, but it definitely doesn’t feel like much. In fact, for some time I had anxiety that I came to reading and writing too late in life (as compared to other writers), and that there wasn’t any chance for me to get anything good done. But nowadays I don’t worry about that, really. I feel I've been finally finding my own voice, and to be truly honest I feel like that is the most important part of writing...

...Or maybe I'm just out here making excuses for not writing much lately ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
 
Hey man, I was like that, too. My parents always thought I was lying because I couldn’t keep my eyes fixed on anyone else's. It wasn’t until recent years that I've become more outgoing and a better talker, but the nerves you get from people are always there in some form or another.
I can totally relate to that. My parents always thought that I am just being rude or that I am really not interested in telling them about simple things like how my day went and stuff like that. But the real reason was that it was too hard for me to express how I really feel. But now I am working on it. Hopefully I can be more outgoing and a better talker like you real soon. :)

Now I have a drawer full of papers with poems and stories in it, but it definitely doesn’t feel like much. In fact, for some time I had anxiety that I came to reading and writing too late in life (as compared to other writers), and that there wasn’t any chance for me to get anything good done. But nowadays I don’t worry about that, really. I feel I've been finally finding my own voice, and to be truly honest I feel like that is the most important part of writing...

...Or maybe I'm just out here making excuses for not writing much lately ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

You've had a really long journey with books and finding your way. But I'm glad that you finally found what you truly love to do. How long the journey was, the end should be good. That's what counts right?
I too have a small Diary of mine where I write all my thoughts. There are few which I feel are really good but then there's something inside me which stops me from sharing it with the world. Maybe that's my shyness or whatever it is. I used to feel anxious about it all the time. That why can't I write my name below a poem that I wrote. Why can't I say that yes this is my work? I used to be so mad at myself. But now I have made my peace with it. I just feel that maybe whatever I write is too personal to me and I don't really want everyone to enter that space. So I guess we all have our own share in anxiety. I feel that's what makes poets and artistic people different from others. We can change our anxiety into words. :P

Or maybe you are just trying to find an inspiration to write something more beautiful? Finding your voice is what matters. Once we learn how to live and what makes us happy, only then we can write what we truly believe in. So yes finding your voice is the most important thing. As Mary oliver said and I quote, " Listen are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?"
We should just live our life and rest will come along. :)))))
 
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